Two Nigerians, Professor Pius Adesanmi and Ambassador Abiodun Bashua, were among 157 people that died on Sunday in an Ethiopian Airlines jet crash.
Adesanmi is a popular Nigerian-born Canadian professor and columnist, while Ambassador Bashua is a former Joint Special Representative for the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur, Sudan.
The two eminent Nigerians, however, did not travel with their Nigerian passports as Adesanmi travelled with his Canadian passport, while Abiodun travelled with United Nations passport.
The passenger jet en route Addis Ababa to Nairobi crashed in Kenya shortly after take-off yesterday morning, killing all passengers and eight crew members on board.
Also on board the ill-fated flight were 32 Kenyans, 18 Canadians, nine Ethiopians, eight Chinese, eight Italians, eight Americans, and seven people each from France and United Kingdom.
There were also six Egyptians, five Germans, four people each from Slovakia and India, three people each from Austria, Russia, Sweden, and two people each from Spain, Israel, Morrocco and Poland.
President Muhammadu Buhari, in a condolence message to the government and people of Ethiopia, said the high casualty figure was disturbing.
The President greeted the immediate families of the victims, as he sent condolences to the leaders and people of all the countries whose nationals were involved in the accident.
“On behalf of the government and the people of Nigeria, the president extends his sincere condolences to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia, the people of Ethiopia, Kenya, Canada, China and all other nations who lost citizens in the air disaster.
“The president also commiserates with the families of the victims and prays to God Almighty to grant the gentle souls of the departed eternal rest”, a statement by the President’s senior special assistant on media and publicity, Garba Shehu, in Daura, Katsina State, quoted Buhari as saying in Daura, Katsina State.
He added: “Such large scale loss of human lives in a single incident is shocking beyond words.
“I am profoundly touched by this devastating report of air accident involving one of the world’s most successful and efficient airlines.
“Given its remarkable safety record, this couldn’t have come at a worse time for Ethiopian Airlines.”
The President further praised the airline, saying: “Like every other African leader, I am proud of the fact that Ethiopian Airlines represents one of Africa’s success stories.”
Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, where Adesanmi was a lecturer, said in a statement on its website, “The contributions of Pius Adesnami to Carleton are immeasurable…He was a scholar and teacher of the highest calibre who left a deep imprint on Carleton.”